Uptick in Arkansas Lottery sales from a year ago, but scholarship funds decline again

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — The Arkansas Lottery has reported that its revenue in July increased by an estimated $740,000 over a year ago to $31.6 million.

But lottery officials say the amount raised for college scholarships dipped by about $140,000 to $5.7 million, partly due to a $1 million scratch-off ticket winner collecting his money last month, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1DMue0m ) reported.

"Fortunately, we only finished $100,000 lower than budget despite the large prize," Lottery Director Bishop Woosley said in a statement.

The lottery started selling tickets in 2009, and sales have helped finance more than 30,000 scholarships during each of the past five years. But the Legislature has previosuly cut the size of scholarships for some future scholarship recipients since the lottery's revenue and net proceeds have dipped each of the past three fiscal years.

This week, the lottery said scratch-off-ticket sales revenue increased in July, the first month of fiscal 2016, by about $61,000 over a year ago to $25.8 million. Draw-game ticket revenue increased by about $680,000 to $5.8 million. The lottery's draw games include the Mega Millions and Powerball jackpot games.

Woosley said that scratch-off ticket sales increased in July partly because the scratch-off ticket "strategy we have implemented over the past 18 months continues to work as we have now been up in (in scratch-off) tickets 9 of the past 13 months."

"Also, gas prices have remained low, which typically helps increase our sales," he said.

Woosley said the lottery's draw-game ticket sales increased last month over a year ago "because we launched a creative campaign for Mega Millions," and there wasn't a large jackpot for the game in July.

Woosley projects that lottery revenue will be $411 million and net proceeds for college scholarships will be $79.5 million in fiscal 2016.

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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